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Smoke Rings Established World Recordby Stefan Wijkstr
Copyright © 2001 Stefan Wijkstr
Leif Anderson did not play any musical instrument himself, but he made a big contribution to jazz in Sweden. Anderson, who was a leading authority on jazz music recorded between c. 1930 - c. 1960, had a weekly jazz hour on Radio Sweden, called Smoke Rings, which began on September 12, 1960.
Earlier short-lived radio programmes which he hosted in 1956 were Reflexer i skivsplittret and Swing Session. Between 1956 and 1959 he also wrote reviews and other articles for Orkesterjournalen (the world's oldest jazz magazine, first issued in November 1933).
On November 14, 1999, he broadcast his program no. 1,786, and established a new record. Smoke Rings was now not only the longest running radio programme in any category on Radio Sweden (which started the same year Anderson was born), but also the longest running radio programme in the world.
The signature tune was "Smoke Rings", played by The Casa Loma Orchestra, and for a couple of decades the show closed with "Until The Real Things Come Along", played by Van Alexander's Orchestra. Later, he switched to "Marlowe's Theme", composed by David Shire, from the film "Farewell My Lovely"
He was a great personality. He always talked in "pluralis majestatis" (the Royal We), his voice was very hoarse, and he loved Anglicisms or Americanisms. For almost 40 years, he started his programme with the words: "hello music lovers!", delivered in English to his Swedish listeners.
He adopted an arrogant tone, irritating many musicians with his dead certain commentaries on music. For instance, his description of modern jazz was "migraine music". He detested Miles Davis's music but loved that of Duke Ellington, who was Anderson's great idol since his childhood.
Side by side with his radio work, he performed as a very popular master of ceremonies at jazz concerts like Happy Jazz at Skansen in Stockholm, and all over Sweden, and showed lots of old American jazz films on Swedish TV. He also ran a mail order firm for jazz, "The Music Room", starting in the mid 40's.
Leif Anderson was posthumously awarded Radio Sweden Malmo's cultural prize in 1999.